You desperately want to find the right job, but somehow, it seems like you never find time for your job search. Of course, job seeking DOES take time, and especially if you’re feeling burnt out, the effort required might seem like too much.
Here’s what I hear from clients: Work is crazy. My parent needs help. I’m doing a house remodel. My kids take all my energy when I’m home from work. I travel a lot and am exhausted when I’m back. I just can’t bring myself to look at my laptop over the weekend.
No doubt about it, finding time for a job search requires some creativity and extra motivation. And yet, the time won’t make itself or be easier “someday.” In order to get a new job, you need to proactively figure out how to make a job search work with your existing life.
Here’s how to reclaim your time (and regular motivation) for job seeking:
1. You may not realize how much it’s costing you right now NOT to job search
You might wonder, how could it possibly cost me NOT to job search? Here’s how:
Are you missing out on the extra income that the new job might bring? Consider this; if you were pretty much guaranteed a raise by spending some time on a particular project at work, how much time and energy would you make sure you allocate?
Even if a raise isn’t guaranteed with your next move, it’s more likely than not, in most career situations. So, would the thought of missing out on $5K/year right now (or whatever number you choose) motivate you to set some time aside? Whatever it is, you can think of your time in the job search as an investment that should pay off in future earnings. (Or an investment in future happiness, if that feels more realistic.)
You’re likely spending money outside of work to deal with feelings of burnout and stress. Many people help themselves feel better about a stressful work situation by grabbing an extra coffee on their way to work, spending on a big vacation, buying extra beer/wine or junk food to decompress, going out to dinner more than normal… the list goes on.
If you add up what’s leaking out of your pockets to cope with your job stress, you may find that getting a less stressful job would be far better for your family finances.
2. You’re asking the wrong question
Many people think about their job search the wrong way. They think, “with everything on my plate, how on earth am I supposed to fit in a job search?” But, in fact, you could likely carve out time if you really needed to.
Let’s say your best friend really needed your help in an acute situation. Could you find the time, if needed? If so, you can find the time for a job search.
The right question for a job seeker is, “if this is going to significantly increase my happiness, what do I need to shift to make it happen?” If you look at all of your hours – early AM, pre-working hours, right when you get to work, lunchtime, commute (perfect for hands-free calls or industry related podcasts), after dinner, or pre-bedtime, you’d likely find a few hours here and there. Add in weekends, and you’ve likely got some time that you could direct toward a productive job search.
3. You may be under so much stress that you’re forgetting to take time for what’s important
Your daily stress level and your job situation is pretty darn important to your overall well-being. When you’re in job crisis, or even coast/burnout mode, most other areas of your life suffer as well. Your relationships take the back burner, your health suffers, your salary might not be what it could be, and your professional confidence takes a hit.
Chances are that your work life, if given the most urgent attention, would have the biggest payoff in your daily satisfaction. See if you can simplify in ANY other areas of your life in order to free up time for your search; it needs to be your #1 priority after your immediate family.
4. You may not be spending your time on the job search effectively
For busy professionals conducting a job search, the name of the game is efficiency. Your goal as a job seeker? Get as many leads going as possible without wasting time.
Truly efficient job searching is NOT looking online for a job (or cycling through a common job search spiral, as I talk about here.)
It means saying no to opportunities that don’t fit you, or carefully honing your networking pitch so you’re focused on the opportunities that have the largest chance of paying off. It also means throwing your hat in the ring, following up effectively and then MOVING ON to find the next possible opportunity, without getting emotionally hung up on any one outcome. It means setting up systems, tracking your progress, and being super organized, like it’s the most critical work project you’ll be on all year. You’re already busy, and you need to make sure that your limited time is used as wisely and effectively as possible.
By keeping these strategies in mind, you can find more time to job search. Here’s the challenge: what can you do this week to put this into action?
Readers, what do you think? What are creative ways people can carve out time for a job search?